Notre Dame Football: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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March, 19, 2012

Floyd up one spot on McShay's board

February, 10, 2012
Michael Floyd moved up one spot, to No. 18, on Todd McShay's draft board this week Insider.

Floyd is the second of three receivers on McShay's 32-man board, six spots behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (No. 12) and two spots ahead of Baylor's Kendall Wright (No. 20), both of whom held steady on this week's board.

Floyd stayed at No. 24 on Mel Kiper's 25-man Big Board for the second straight week Insider, again behind Blackmon but ahead of Wright.
Michael Floyd comes in at No. 24 on Mel Kiper's Big Board for the second straight week.

Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (No. 5) and Baylor's Kendall Wright (No. 17) were the only receivers who fared better.

Kiper was asked during Tuesday's chat if Floyd's stock was falling because he did not play in the Senior Bowl, but Kiper said that is not the case.
No, I don't think that's something that will make him plummet. I think he's the kind of guy that had a good year, a productive year. He caught some passes. You want to see him show some more aggressiveness. You want him to be the guy that wants to take over the game. He's in the top 25 on the Big Board. He's a mid to later first-round pick.

Meanwhile, Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench once again sees Floyd as a good fit on the New England Patriots , especially after their loss in the Super Bowl.
Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith Insider are among those listed in Mel Kiper's rankings of the five-best players at each position in this year's draft.

Floyd stayed at No. 2 among wide receivers, behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.

Among safeties, Smith came in at No. 4 for the second week in a row, behind Mark Barron (Alabama), Antonio Allen (South Carolina) and Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State).
Among this group, Barron is the only one I have right now with a relatively safe first-round grade. Antonio Allen is a guy I was a little late on, but going through the tape on him I've come away extremely impressed. He's a riser for me in recent weeks.

Kiper Insider also ranks the top five players at each position who are returning for their senior years of school, and Manti Te'o comes in as the No. 1 inside linebacker.
Manti Te'o's return to South Bend didn't totally surprise me, but I'm not sure he'll be any higher on draft boards by staying a year than he would have been this year. That's more about the position than the player.

Surprisingly, Tyler Eifert is not on Kiper's list of top five tight ends returning.

Floyd rising on draft boards

January, 13, 2012
Michael Floyd has risen two spots this past week on each of's main draft boards.

The former Notre Dame wide receiver is up to Insider No. 20 on Mel Kiper's Big Board and Insider No. 18 on Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay's board.

Floyd is the third of three receivers on Kiper's 25-man Big Board, behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (No. 5) and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery (No. 14). He trails only Blackmon (No. 8) on McShay's 32-man board. Jeffery (No. 24) and Baylor's Kendall Wright (No. 28) also crack McShay's board.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is Sunday. Kiper will release his first mock draft of the season next week.

When will SEC's reign end?

January, 11, 2012

Alabama beat LSU for the national title, and both will likely enter 2012 as preseason top-five teams.

Not far behind them will be Arkansas, which has a legitimate argument as the nation's third-best team this season following an 11-2 campaign that featured losses to only the Crimson Tide and the Tigers.

Throw in the fact the Razorbacks get both finalists at home next season, and we may once again be looking at three top-five SEC West teams, meaning, at the very least, one will be in the BCS title game and give the conference a chance at a seventh straight national title.

When will this reign of dominance end? Probably not soon, as seven of ESPNU's current top 15 recruiting classes for 2012 belong to SEC schools. Notre Dame is there as well, at No. 13, but it would be unreasonable to expect the Irish to jump into national title contention, at least next season, with an unfavorable schedule and a big question mark at quarterback.

The best guess here is change atop the college football ranks won't come until change comes to the BCS as we know it, and even that does nothing more than provide a sliver of opportunity for everyone else.

Oklahoma State is in the title game this season if not for a double-overtime loss at Iowa State that came one day after the Cowboys' women's basketball coach and three others were killed in a plane crash. Whether the Cowboys would have beaten LSU is another matter entirely. And they're only in the conversation now because of a Fiesta Bowl that Stanford could not close out when given the chance in the waning seconds.

Things could have been different. In 2008, former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe helped reject a proposed "plus one" that was being supported by the ACC and SEC. Yup, Mike Slive gave everyone a chance, and he got turned down. As they say, who's laughing now?

But change may be coming. Every conference better hope it is.

Six straight national titles by the SEC -- culminating with two of its schools in the title game Monday night -- gives the conference the benefit of the doubt. That means a one-loss Alabama team that already lost to LSU gets a rematch instead of a one-loss Oklahoma State team waiting for its shot, regardless of each's body of work this season. It's a no-win situation for champions of other conferences. It's the SEC champion and the next-best thing, which, this year, meant another SEC team. History favors it, and the Tide's performance Monday left little room for argument.

Which leads us to whatever changes come in 2014, when the next BCS contract will begin. Answers remain unclear, but if any semblance of a playo ... (er, "plus one") comes to fruition, schools from all over will have the chance to make their cases on the field.

That's all it is -- a chance. But in the same way an Iowa State can knock off an Oklahoma State, that chance may be all anyone tired of the SEC can hope for in trying to slow the dominance of college football's best conference.

Floyd holding steady on draft boards

January, 6, 2012
Michael Floyd remains at No. 21 on Todd McShay's draft board and at No. 22 on Mel Kiper's Big Board, the same spots he held on each board last week.

McShay writes:
Floyd's size and ball skills make him an elite playmaker down the field, and off-field concerns seem to be behind him. He still must prove his suddenness as a route-runner, though.

McShay projects Floyd as the second of four wide receivers to be taken in the first round, behind only Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, slated at No. 9. He has South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery at No. 27 and Baylor's Kendall Wright at No. 32.

Kiper, meanwhile, has Blackmon going four spots higher, at No. 5, with Jeffery ahead of Floyd at No. 14.

Floyd is the third of three receivers Kiper has on his 25-man list, writing:
Multidimensional receiver is able to beat you short or deep using a big frame to beat smaller cornerbacks. Played at 227 pounds in 2010 but dropped a little weight this season and does appear a little quicker.

Could Floyd stay in Midwest?

December, 21, 2011
Notre Dame fans scattered across the Midwest had to be happy today when looking at Todd McShay's initial first-round draft projections .

McShay has Irish receiver Michael Floyd being selected 19th overall -- by none other than the Chicago Bears.

Here's McShay's take:
The Bears haven't take a receiver in the first round since David Terrell in 2001, and I understand their hesitation to draft wideouts so high. However, they must find weapons for QB Jay Cutler, and Roy Williams clearly doesn't make the cut. Floyd seems to have put off-field issues behind him, and his size and ability to play the deep ball make him an attractive option.

Having seen the Bears up-close Sunday, I can't say I disagree with McShay's assessment or the fit. Of course, it's only December, meaning plenty can change in terms of draft stock and selection order.

Floyd is the second of four receivers McShay projects for the first round. Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (projected No. 9 to the Carolina Panthers) is the first receiver McShay has getting drafted.

Could Floyd be first WR drafted?

November, 8, 2011
Justin Blackmon has 19 more catches than Michael Floyd this season. The Oklahoma State junior has 207 more receiving yards than Floyd. And Blackmon has twice as many touchdown receptions.

But could Floyd surpass Blackmon in this year's NFL Draft? From Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench (Insider):
With the Fighting Irish dropping their first two games and Floyd's production dipping a bit, it's easy to see why he's not alongside Blackmon in the Heisman race. However, the argument could be made that Floyd is the better NFL prospect.

It all starts with size. Floyd (6-foot-3, 229 pounds) is two inches taller and 18 pounds heavier than Blackmon (6-1, 211). Most receivers Floyd's size don't have great foot speed, but he is agile enough to get a clean release at the line of scrimmage and quickly start building speed with his long strides. Floyd also has the long arms, body control and big hands to make spectacular catches in jump-ball situations.

He isn't as crisp in his routes as Blackmon, but Floyd is athletic enough to improve in that area, and he has an even bigger frame to box out defenders when he's unable to separate. He runs hard after the catch as well, and has enough top-end speed to rip of a chunk of yards when he gets a seam.

As Muench notes in his post, which can be found here, there are other factors working against Floyd, such as his off-field history and his quarterback's play (at least in relation to the Cowboys' Brandon Weeden.)

It is an interesting debate. Floyd is currently No. 21 on Scouts Inc.'s Top 32. Blackmon is No. 8. Floyd isn't even on Mel Kiper's Big Board, while Blackmon is No. 5.

And then, of course, there's the scenario in which Blackmon doesn't even declare for the draft, though that seems unlikely given his current stock. Regardless, a strong finish these past three (and likely four) games could mean a big payday for Floyd in the near future.

Notre Dame mailbag

October, 21, 2011
Apologies for the late start chatting today. Here is my way of making it up to you.

Kevin from New York writes: I would love to see Notre Dame make a BCS bowl game, but how do you see Notre Dame standing up against some of the other dominant BCS schools?

Matt Fortuna: Kevin, I think LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma are in a league of their own right now. Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Stanford and Clemson aren't too far behind. I suppose we'll really get our answer Nov. 26 when the Irish go to Stanford, and I think at the moment that could be a very good game. I wouldn't want any part of the other three at the moment.

Adena from South Bend writes: I often hear Kirk Herbstreit talk about how Notre Dame has a lot of talent. Why don't they play a team like Alabama or LSU to prove they are indeed relevant again? Can you please blog about this? Thank You.

Matt Fortuna: Adena, they go to Oklahoma next year to face a Sooners team that, who knows, may just be defending its national title. They also go to Stanford this year and in recent years have played a national title contender in USC annually. Add in the fact that there are no true cupcakes and the scheduling quirks that come with being an independent, and it becomes a lot harder to schedule such big games, especially with so many annual rivalries to protect as well.

Jody Ruedisale from Lansing, Mich., writes: I feel Notre Dame should be ranked. I don't know what the coaches or the writers are thinking in the AP and the coaches poll. They are better in the teams ranked 20-15 and they beat a very Michigan State team soundly.

Matt Fortuna: Jody, I agree, it is weird to see the Irish not ranked after these past four wins. That MSU win is looking better and better each week, as well, and will especially look good if Sparty can somehow beat Wisconsin this week. No worries, however. If ND beats USC, it will be ranked.

Pete from Bergenfield, N.J., writes: Do you see Everett Golson getting some solid playing time in the near future? And when do you think if ever he will be the starting quarterback.

Matt Fortuna: Pete, Golson is all but a lock to redshirt this season with three other quarterbacks having already seen playing time. It is a long ways away to know whether he will ever start, and I, for one, have never seen a practice so I can't exactly tell you how he looks. I do know that it will be an open competition after this year and everything will be up for grabs.

James Clinton from Springfield, Va., writes: You always say that Notre Dame's defense isn't good and that ND isn't good, yet they are the only team to beat Michigan State, IN A BLOW-OUT, and man-handled Air Force. U are just being biased because of the first two games. And our offense, which is so bad apparently, has scored over 30 in 4 games. And we rank 28th in BCS, which is too low, yet somehow 7 spots lower than penn state. How does PSU, who plays NOBODY, rank above a team with what analysts call the "hardest first six games schedule?" Thanks

Matt Fortuna: James, appreciate the etiquette with the "thanks" at the end. And I don't think Penn State is better than Notre Dame, which I again ranked higher this week, though I do think the better record and the fact its only loss came to No. 2 Alabama certainly plays a role in most voters' minds. Now if you can find where I "always say that Notre Dame's defense isn't good," that "ND isn't good" and where I wrote that the offense is so bad, then I will gladly eat my own words. Also, a bias would imply I don't like Notre Dame, not that my judgment is clouded by the first two games. Those two games — two losses — are a part of Notre Dame football's 2011 team forever, and they will always show up in the record books. You can't always ignore that when talking about this team, however good it may end up being.


The latest from Gustin at The Opening
ESPN 300 athlete Porter Gustin (Salem, Utah/Salem Hills) took time out to talk recruiting and more with WeAreSC's Garry Paskwietz on Tuesday at The Opening.